Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Follow through, or don't even bother investigating

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media. Recommended at Daily Kos

I’m pretty pissed off right now. And frankly, I’m not nearly alone here, as Congress’ approval is at an all time low, according to a new Gallup Poll. And even though there is more approval for Democrats than republicans, and even though there is a preference for Democrats than republicans, there is one thing that republicans are very very good at – understanding that if the public doesn’t like the other side more than they don’t like you, then you can win. Not that this is going to happen, but it could happen.

I know that we all would love to see Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales and whoever else frog marched, impeached and locked up for many years. I am also aware of the precedent that would be set if these actions don’t go punished, or even investigated. But with the country in such bad shape by nearly every metric that even the slumbered masses have taken their heads our of their asses the sand long enough to start realizing just how dire the situation could be.

Now that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problems that face this country – Katrina has still left the Gulf Coast in shambles and ignored to the point where it isn’t much better than it was close to two years ago. The housing crisis is going to get worse. A LOT worse, as people won’t be able to afford their mortgages, as mortgage companies go out of business and the cascading effect hits other areas of the housing sector. Iraq is a sinkhole of death, destruction and even our Democratic leaders (with a lot of help from the blue dogs) aren’t taking a bold stand or the lead on probably the most important issue facing this country. That goes for the Presidential candidates as well – especially those who are in Congress and in a position to act as the leader that they want to be.

The infrastructure is a mess – the bridge collapse is just another example, as I have written about our decaying railways and the decline in mine safety over the past few years as well. Roads are in disrepair, the power grid is outdated, and there are so many more examples of needs with not enough money to even keep up with the necessary maintenance, let alone major repairs. We are falling behind in education, the environmental issues are still “up for debate” and the White House has even fought regulations with respect to lead paint.

People are working more and taking home less. This is compounded by high gas prices, a lack of adequate or affordable health insurance and the AMT squeezing all of the people it SHOULDN’T, while not touching many of those it should be hitting.

You know, real problems that touch on them. Problems that they want Congress to tackle - no matter how big or how tough they may be. And here is a news flash – Americans would rather have the Democrats TRY to implement a healthcare plan, or deal with infrastructure issues, or hold their ground on Iraq and actually have a timetable set – even if it results in a veto than to have nothing but hand wringing.

So where am I going with all this?

Investigations are nice. Investigations are warranted. Threats are also good, especially when there has been no indication of compliance or cooperation for years. But, toothless investigations and threats of the “just wait until your father gets home” variety aren’t going to do much other than waste time, energy and resources.

Actually, I take that back – it will also (1) piss off those who demand accountability because we see the toothless threats time and again and are getting tired of it and (2) give fodder to those on the right who accuse the Democrats of partisan witch hunts or “playing politics”.

Before you dismiss the second point above – just remember who controls the message.

The other day, Senator Dodd, a Presidential candidate who I am liking more and more, had the following to say about impeaching Gonzales:

"Alberto Gonzales - I gotta tell you, if your question would have been just about Alberto Gonzales, I would've been a little less secure in my answer to you," said Dodd, who said he didn't support pursuing impeachment of Bush or Cheney. "The president and vice president of the United States, I just don't want to go down that road. Gonzales - I'm open to you convincing me that this is one we might want to move on."

Now, as much as I am liking Dodd more and more, this is just an unbelievable statement. He is open to being convinced about impeaching Gonzales???? A man who is an attorney (and supposedly bound by a professional code of ethics) and is caught lying time and time again. To Congress. The nation’s TOP attorney, who either can’t get a handle on the most basic as well as the most controversial high profile things going on in his own Justice Department, or who is pulling the strings and lying about it. A man who crafted the support for torture. And lord knows what else.

Before anyone says that impeachment comes from the House and he can only vote to convict, I say that I am sure that Dodd has many friends in the House and as someone who is running for President, should be able to take a leadership role here in forcing the issue.

Leahy lets deadlines come and go, while throwing around words like “contempt”. Reid talks about changing direction in Iraq. Much of the Democratic leadership talks about how they want to change the FISA rule they just allowed to be brought to the floor. Frankly, the argument of being afraid that something will happen that wasn’t picked up by spying and the Democrats will be blamed is the stupidest, laziest and dishonest argument that I have heard in a good while. For starters, let’s answer a couple of questions:

  • Who is responsible for the lack of enough qualified Arabic translators that can even interpret any messages that are intercepted?

  • Who gave no though to invading Iraq or the aftermath, even though there was ample warning?

  • Who blew off the most bold warnings that the US was in dire threat of being attacked, blew off warnings about al Qaeda, and then responded with a “ok, you’ve covered your ass now”

  • Who decided to give money to the Saudis, even though they have ties to the 9/11 attackers and had ties to wealthy nationals who funded the insurgency in Iraq?

How about going on the offensive? How about getting legislation to the floor that actually helps the major disasters that are facing Americans? How about getting on national television, writing OpEds or holding press conferences on the steps of the Capitol letting everyone know that Bush is going to veto a bill with respect to expanding health care access for children – that is if the republicans don’t stop it from passing? Or that they are going to impeach Gonzales? Or that there will be a major transportation bill that funds the things it needs to fund - even if Bush vetoes it. Even if the republicans hold the bill up?

That is the republican strategy – block everything and say that the Democrats did nothing other than investigate for partisan purposes. And in the battle of message, the Democrats are losing badly.

If the investigations don’t result in meaningful actions, and the status quo in Congress continues, then the 2008 elections will be a lot closer than we would like them to be.

This country has lots of major problems that need to be solved. This is the Democratic Party’s chance to step up to the plate. We can’t wait until after the 2008 elections for much of this. And it is foolish to think that independents are going to flock to the polls based on a disappointing two years as Democrats need them to.

To put it more bluntly, either shit or get off the pot. There is enough evidence to charge more than a few people and hold them in inherent contempt. Either do it or don’t even bother investigating anymore.

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